Core Competencies: Using Competencies to Determine Fit When Hiring
The new realities of work are making it much more possible for organizations to hire candidates based on how well their skills and competencies match the job without placing limits on where the candidate lives. As organizations look to the future and try to become more agile or innovative, it is important for them to ensure that their people have the competencies that not only match the job but also match the organization’s culture, mission, vision, and values.
Competencies that apply to every job within the company and are linked to the vision and values of the company are called core competencies. For example, if “agility” is one of your company’s values, then an Agility core competency might be essential for every role within your organization.
Why are Core Competencies Important?
Defining the core competencies needed for success is a critical first step for any hiring initiative because it:
- Helps an organization to define what successful performance looks like for a given value or vision (e.g., What does agility look like? What does customer focus look like?).
- Links the vision and values to successful performance across the entire organization, from more entry-level positions (e.g., like an individual contributor role) up to higher level positions (e.g., like a VP role).
- Helps an organization to define what needs to be assessed during hiring.
- Encourages people with the skills and competencies that match the organization’s vision and values to apply (e.g., add them to job ads and job descriptions).
- Helps people to assess how well their own skills or competencies fit the organization’s core competencies and either self-select in (apply) or self-select out (not apply).
- Allows an organization to measure how well a candidate’s competencies fit using standardized tools like interviews guides.
- Ensures consistent evaluation of candidates.
- Allows an organization to make better hiring decisions which can in turn reduce turnover.
How to Use Core Competencies When Hiring
There are a few things you can do to start using core competencies when hiring.
Step 1: Define the core competencies
It is important to first spend time defining the 2-3 critical core competencies that align to your organization’s vision and values. These core competencies become the standard or common language for what successful performance should look like for people to demonstrate that they are living and breathing your organization’s values. You can hold a virtual focus group with the senior leaders to select the core competencies as they are the ones most familiar with the organization’s vision and values. You will also want to ensure that you customize the competencies or tailor them to better reflect your organization’s unique culture. If the core competencies do not resonate with your people, no one will want to use them.
Step 2: Create interview questions tied to the core competencies
One way to include core competencies in hiring is to create behaviourally-anchored interview questions tied to the core competencies. This way you can ask all candidates the same interview question and objectively compare their responses. A standard rating scale will also help you to ensure that the hiring process is fair, objective, and legally defensible and really define what a good answer and a poor answer looks like.
Step 3: Make sure hiring managers understand the competencies and know how to use the interview guides
To ensure a fair, defensible, and effective process, it is important to ensure that hiring mangers or whoever is conducting the interview are trained on how to open the interview, ask the questions, ask probing questions, take notes, and evaluate each answer.